Food Hygiene and Consumers Health: A Case of Kotobabi, Spintex Road-Accra
Microbiology Unit, Quality Control Department, Danadams Pharmaceuticals Industry Limited, Spintex Road-Accra, +233, Ghana.
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Abstract: Food hygiene is very important to state members’ health and development. The study investigated good food hygiene practice among Food Vendors in Kotobabi market, Spintex Road-Accra and the safety of consumers’ health. Qualitative research approach was used and case study research design adopted. The study revealed that about 50% of the Food Vendors do not have much knowledge in food hygiene and safety; also they do not have clean and hygienic facility for production. It was also found that Vendors attitude towards food hygiene is not encouraging. However, it was also identified that the other 50% are improving on producing safe and hygienic food product for consumers to ensure safe health of consumers.
Keywords: Food hygiene, consumers, food vendors, food safety,
Food hygiene is very crucial in international discussion today; World Health Organization explains that they are the conditions and measures necessary to ensure the safety of food from production to consumption 6. Food is very important to every living organism; humans consume food for nutritional supports. Food may be produce from plant, animal or both. While some foods have to go through series of preparation, others may be eaten raw or direct without any heat treatment 10.
Microorganism which may exist in single-celled form, or in a colony of cells live in almost every habitat, and are associated with several food products with the exception of those foods that may exhibit anti-microbial properties. Microorganisms are mainly classified into six major types: bacteria, archaea, fungi, protozoa, algae, and viruses 7. These organisms have several economic or biological importances but can be harmful to the environment and human health. Some of the benefits of microorganisms are seen in food and pharmaceutical industries: microorganisms are used in production of various food products such as yoghurt, cheese, bear, wine, antibiotics, sanitizers and washing agents. However, microorganism may cause serious harm to human health, food spoilage, environmental pollution, and water pollution 7.
Food products are often contaminated from the soil or the farm or the abattoir; they may also be contaminated by exposure to contaminated air or environment. Some food products also produce toxins which are responsible for food poison. However, adequate hygienic and appropriate preparation of food products renders food products safe for consumption. But, safe and hygienic food can be cross-contaminated during the production process. Food production process therefore needs to be taken much important by food vendors, manufacturers or food handlers to avoid cross-contamination of food products 7 10.
Most foods are prepared in an unhygienic home or environment by most food vendors in the country. Unfortunately most of our food vendors have less knowledge in food hygiene and safety and the consequences of spoiled food, contaminated foods or food poison on the health of the consumer, the business of the food Vendor and the state at large. The problem is further worsen when some food Vendors feel frightened when they are approached with foodborne illness and the need for education on food poison or contamination and related issues. This challenge is the major problem of food vendors in our country, this problem continue to increase at an alarming rate since laws or regulations on such matters are silent in the country or less enforced by stakeholders and consumers themselves also appear unconcern and are attracted to any food irrespective of who is selling, where it is sold, and how it is packaged 8 10.
In a summary, food safety is compromised by most small food joints operators in Accra, mean while the majority of the population is found patronizing most of these food joints because of several factors such as cheap cost and availability. A food vendor may serve food with her bare hand and use the same hand to collect money while also torching body parts and other contaminated surface with the same hand.
Serving food with bare hand is inappropriate and may result in cross-contamination of food products and spread foodborne illness such as diarrhoea and cholera. The outbreak of food related illness are often disastrous and may wipe away an entire family or community.
To investigate food hygiene practice among food vendors in Kotobabi market and ascertain the safety of consumers’ health.
1.2 Research Objectives
1.2.1 To examine food hygiene and safety practices adoption among food vendors
1.2.2 To examine the safety of consumers by assessing the risk level of foodborne illness
1.2.3 To suggest some effective ways to improve food hygiene and safety practices among food vendors.
2. Literature review
Food production business is imperative to every society or community since this may provide jobs for the average citizen and contributes to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country. In Ghana, food vending business is common for average mothers and youth. Small scale food productions continue to sustain the largest population of the country; most food vendors are able to feed their family, support their husbands, provide for their children and themselves. They may also support the community as they pay their Tax and other public charges; they also support social and religious organizations which are important part of the community. Most importantly, these food vendors, support business in the country, support agriculture and provide food to promote strong and healthy workforce for the country. They are also able to save some income for the future and to build their own home and support their health bills and other utilities.
Food safety is a discipline that covers the handling, preparation, and storage of food in a way to prevent food-borne illness 3. Foodborne illness which occurs when one ingests contaminated or poison is a major disease outbreak caused by contaminated or toxi food products. In providing safe and hygienic food products for consumers, the food production process is very fundamental: the safety of the product and the consumer. Food therefore must be safe through safe preparation of food and safe delivery to consumer. The preparation must follow a certain accepted procedure that guarantees a safe finished product, this intrinsic standards for food preparation are developed by countries and international organizations such as International Standard Organization (ISO); ISO 22000 4 is a standard developed by international organization for food safety standardization. World Health Organization (WHO) 10 has also develop the five key principles of food hygiene which are summarized as prevent contamination, separate raw and cooked foods, cook foods appropriately for the optimal time, appropriate storage of foods and the use of safe water and safe raw material 3.. In doing these food vendors must consider the following:
Raw Materials: The first step toward a safe finished food product is using the appropriate raw material and safe water. This involves storing of raw materials under the right conditions in clean environment or room. The use of contaminated or spoilage raw materials should be avoided, while raw materials are separated to avoid cross contamination 9.
Clean Equipments: The equipments for the food productions such as the utensils, the knife, the chopping boards, etc, should be well washed and kept in a clean container. Single cooking container or pot should not be used for different products to avoid contaminations. In a situation of constraint however, food handlers should adopt appropriate cleaning and drying of production equipments.
Production Room: The production room such as the kitchen should be clean and well ventilated. It should not be close to refuse dump areas, public toilet and should not be overly exposed to the external environment.
Protecting Clothing: Where required, wear protective clothing: nose musk, hair nets, aprons and coats to avoid dropping of contaminants such as hairs 5 and other materials.
Clean and Appropriate Packaging: Ensure the food products are packed in the right and clean packaging materials to avoid cross-contamination of the clean finished products.
Selling Points or Canteen: The cafeteria or selling points of the food products should be clean and free from contaminant. It should not be close to any refuse dump or stagnated gutters 2.
Qualitative research approach (Parse, Coyne, and Smith, 1985) was used; the research design was also a case study. Observation techniques were used to gather data across twenty five food vendors within the Kotobabi market area. Food preparation areas were visited, and examined. Observations were also made while food preparation was going on and procedures were noted. Vendors were not informed of the investigation. The data was sorted and analyzed using excel.
The study area was Kotobabi, a district of the Greater Accra Region of Ghana located on the Spintex Road; a suburb of Accra, Ghana. The place is a business area and thus constitute of several employees. The marketplace is the most popular place where most employees around as well as inhabitants buy food.
Data analysis: Results and Discussion
Unhygienic production environment: It was observed that some (45%) of the food production sites are not hygienic for production of safe food for consumption. This is very dangerous and may contribute to health cases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera, etc. Preparation process and equipment compromise food product hygiene and safety, the production tools are exposed to house flies. This indicates that preparation process may cross-contaminate the food products and affect the finish products thus consumers’ health is in danger.
Exposing cooking or food preparation tools to unsafe environment will contaminate food products when it’s used. House flies eggs may be present in consumers’ food and this may have result in diarrhoea. This observation support a survey of 180 vendors in five different markets showed that most vendors work under markets showed that most vendors work under poor sanitary conditions although some markets poor sanitary conditions although some markets are slightly better than others 5.